HARTFORD, Conn. - The UConn men's basketball team (18-13, 10-8 American) resumes American Athletic Tournament play on Friday with a quarterfinal contest against third-seeded Cincinnati (22-9, 13-5 American) at 9 p.m. at the XL Center. The game can be seen on ESPNU, and it will also be broadcasted by the UConn IMG Radio Network. Connecticut has won three of its last four meetings with the Bearcats, and UConn defeated Cincinnati, 58-56, in the semifinals of the American Athletic Tournament last year.
The sixth-seeded Huskies moved past USF, 69-43, in the opening round of the conference tournament on Thursday behind a game-high 20 points from freshman guard Daniel Hamilton (Los Angeles, Calf.). Hamilton, who was named the Conference Rookie of the Year yesterday, also added three assists, while guards Ryan Boatright (Aurora, Ill.) and Rodney Purvis (Raleigh, N.C.) each finished in double-figures.
Sophomore center Amida Brimah (Accra, Ghana) once again led the charge on the defensive end, tallying five blocks against the Bulls. USF's 43 points and 31.1 shooting percentage were both season lows for a Connecticut opponent, and South Florida's 14 first half points were the lowest for a team in American Athletic Tournament history. Junior forward Phillip Nolan (Milwaukee, Wis.) chipped in a season-high seven rebounds in the victory.
Cincinnati, winners of five straight, ended its regular season with a 77-65 win over Memphis. The Bearcats possess one of the best defenses in the country, ranking sixth among Division I schools in scoring defense (55.2) and 22nd in field goal defense (39.0). Cincinnati's 7.6 scoring margin and 46.7 percent shooting in league play both ranked second in the conference, while its 36.5 shooting percentage from the 3-point line was the third-best mark.
Bearcats forward Octavius Ellis is the only Cincinnati player to average double-figures (10.0) on the year. The junior's 7.3 rebounds per game rank third among American Athletic players, and he also leads Cincinnati in blocks (66) this season. As a team, the Bearcats rank 10th in the league with 62.6 points per game. Cincinnati went 1-1 in neutral games this year and finished with a 6-5 road record.
Connecticut boasts an overall record of 11-6 against Cincinnati in a series that dates back to 1995. The Huskies split their two games against the Bearcats this season, with each team winning at home. UConn has won its last three games against Cincinnati in Hartford, and Connecticut is 3-1 overall when facing the Bearcats at the XL Center.
The winner of Friday's quarterfinal game will face either No. 2 Tulsa or No. 10 Houston on Saturday at 5 p.m. That game can be seen on ESPN2.